It's All About the Right Attitude
One teacher's take on how attitude and perspective can shape confidence in children as part of the Care.com Interview Series.
Sando Weis takes one little mantra to class with her everyday: "We are a process." According to the well-known food blogger and elementary school teacher, we aren't born with self-confidence, we're made. Weis took time out from teaching and writing her blog, The Daily Deelight, to share with us the biggest pieces of her confidence-building puzzle: unconditional love, expecting your best (instead of perfection), and the importance of the right kind of attitude.
Tell us about your family.
I'd like to say we're high-functioning dysfunctional. We all have our quirks and we're not the Cleavers by any means, but we are definitely a close-knit family. My parents are divorced but are extremely cordial. We are both lucky to come from families of unconditional love, which has helped shape us and is definitely something we will carry on when we start our own family. We are currently the proud parents of a sassy cat named Chloe ...but cannot wait to start our own little family someday!
Do you consider yourself a confident woman? If so, what and who helped you get there?
I would say I'm a pretty confident woman. A huge piece of the confidence puzzle would be my mom. She's a very confident and strong woman. Definitely an ideal role model when it comes to believing in yourself. I was raised to hold my head up high and do things to make myself and others proud. That lends itself to feeling confident on a day-to-day basis. Having a sense of pride in what you do, where you're going and who you are is such a strong confidence builder.
Do you or any of your kids struggle with a lack of self-confidence? How have you handled that?
I absolutely have had my moments of feeling insecure and lacking confidence (in fact, my entire middle-school stretch could fit into this category--yuck). Anyone who says they haven't had these kinds of moments is either lying or an actor who's good at lying.
Since I do not have any children (yet), I can only speak of the kids (21 of them) that I saw everyday in my classroom. I taught 4th grade, which is really a turning point for children and their self-confidence. At that age, they are becoming more aware of themselves and how others perceive them. We worked through A LOT of drama-- mostly confidence-related issues. Some students lacked social confidence, while others lacked in academic confidence. One is usually related to the other.
Students often set themselves up for failure because they expect perfection from themselves. In fact, I know a lot of adults who struggle with this same issue. We're not looking for perfection. We're looking for your best. If you know without a doubt that you did your best and used all the tools provided, then hold your head high and say "I did the best I could."
What was the one moment you knew you were worthy, important and that you truly count?
I think for me it goes back to those moments of feeling self-pride in something I accomplished. Setting out with a goal and meeting that goal really made/makes me feel important and that I am "worthy."
How do you express the value of confidence to your kids? What tips do you have for other parents on boosting kids' self-esteem?
I remind them to focus on the positives first and then look at our "negatives" as just areas that we're working on. It's -- or we are -- a process. We don't come into this world knowing and doing everything we want to do and as well as we'd like to be doing it. Sometimes we have to work at things. Sometimes it's a longer process for others. And that is ok. Always focus on the positive and be solution-oriented. It's all about how you look at it, and most importantly your attitude towards it.
How might you (some day) use social media to increase your child's self-esteem?
I think Twitter and Facebook can be very self-esteem boosting. Just the other day I tweeted a food idol of mine and he retweeted me! Call me a nerd, but I got so excited and had a huge smile about this tiny, quick thing someone I really look up to did for me. I think kids could benefit from those kinds of immediate words/actions of affirmation. Our society is so quick to point out everything you're not and everything you're missing. It's easy to get sucked into that and let that pull you down. But with Twitter or Facebook, you have the ability to instantly send someone you care about a sweet message. Something funny, or even sentimental that will just remind them of the things that matter most in life.
What's the ONE thing you want your kids to know when they walk out the door in the morning?
I want them to know they matter. It can be a harsh and negative world out there. Many times I see kids who look really lost. Unconditional love is so unbelievably important: no matter what they do, no matter what mistakes they make, or how disappointed I may be with them, they will always be loved. Kids who know this face the world with a head held high and have the "can do" mentality that lets them take on whatever hand they are dealt in that one day or in life itself. As long as children know "they matter" to someone, they will have a sturdy foundation for a lifetime of learning and confidence building.
You matter. The end.
Sando Weis is a Martha Stewart wannabe who has the desire to change the world one young mind and good meal at a time. She lives in Maryland with her husband and furchild cat, Chloe, and is the author of blog, The Daily Deelight. You can find Sando on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.